I met my ghost a few weeks ago. She walked down the road opposite me pushing a blue tricycle with a strapped-in toddler. Stunned, I stopped. Like the ghost of Christmas past she came with murmurs of my own history which resurfaced as she rounded the corner.
I started walking the road to the cemetery the first summer we lived here. We moved in November of 2011 and by summer I was pregnant with our second child and convinced that walking would be healthy. I was right. It became a habit. Summers kept passing and we had more children and we were still out walking up and down the road as long as the weather was tolerable.
The me of ten years ago would be secretly horrified by the me of today. Then we belonged to a fundamental baptist church and I walked in long skirts and fussed with my long hair. I was uncomfortable with myself which of course made me awkward around others. I don’t say any of that to scorn my younger self-I wouldn’t be myself without her-but it is an accurate reflection.
Catching a glimpse of me-in-the-past has left me contemplating the changes a decade has brought. Knowing that we are wrapping up our time in this house and state hasn’t hurt that thoughtfulness either. I am slower to judge others now. I don’t know what God is doing and I don’t have to know. I can offer others is the same compassion I feel toward younger me. I can be patient. I can let God be God and simply be human instead of grasping after His work.
I cannot experience true growth without my compassion for others burgeoning as well. Age sometimes sharpens criticism. The soul can harden instead of strengthen. The decade we’ve spent in this house reminds me that God is always at work. He is constantly shaping us and He can be trusted. I don’t have to step in out of turn to get things under control.
My previous reality gives me a sense of humility. Me of ten years ago would have steadfastly asserted how correct I was in what I had been taught, how right all my judgments were. Not only was I sure I was right, that sureness made me suspect the motives of others. No one could have come to a different conclusion from a sincere love for God and study of Scripture. It was an impossibility to my mind.
Now I hold my positions with less confidence. Of orthodoxy, I have only grown increasingly certain. All other viewpoints have faded to gray. Of all the things I know for certain and believe, I am sure to be wrong about some of them. Or I am wrong in how I live them, in how I embody those truths and interact with others. My ghost whispers in my ear as I walk, lingers before my view so I don’t forget. She offers me humility.
She also holds out hope. If I have grown and changed this much in ten years, what must lie ahead? As I walk with and toward Christ, what transformations will take place? What will the end be when I stand, seeing Jesus and being like Him? That hope keeps me from quitting. The past ten years have been full of tedious work and repetitive days and yet with this long view I can see how the work has borne fruit.
As we finish packing up our belongings and drive to a new town in a different state in just two weeks, I look forward knowing that those days will bring transformation as well. It won’t stop. It isn’t limited to Kentucky or this home or that rural country road where I’ve walked and grown.
My ghost has walked with me the past two months whispering humility and hope the whole time.
*header image is my own photo from the cemetery at sunset after a storm